UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today joined returning citizens, White House and Department of Labor officials, local and federal corrections department leaders, policy advocates, law enforcement, workforce development nonprofits, clergy and elected officials to discuss ways to promote the successful re-entry into society of former inmates who have served their sentences.
“To refuse Americans a second chance to redeem themselves permanently damages families and communities, overburdens the criminal justice system and has been shown to be financially inefficient,” said Senator Cardin. “There is not a single member of the United States Senate who has not received a second chance in life, and we should extend opportunities to those who have served their time and are truly seeking to re-establish themselves.”
Participants in the roundtable discussion expressed concerns about needing to find ways to overcome the stigma that accompanies incarceration; to deal with addiction and other mental health care needs; and to generate income for living expenses while learning job skills and searching for employment. Several participants also shared ideas about ways to reform the prison system and to better prepare inmates for their eventual release.
Senator Cardin lauded several local initiatives, such as the newly established Prince George’s County Veterans Court, as holding particular promise for reducing recidivism. Senator Cardin also detailed several potential solutions at the federal level, such as provisions in the BALTIMORE Act that would restore voting rights to ex-offenders, reform sentencing guidelines for non-violent drug offenses, and “ban the box” for the hiring of federal contractors.
“We have a stack of bills ready to reform the judicial process and the bipartisan support to do it,” said Senator Cardin. “It’s time to move forward with legislation that better empowers returning citizens to be productive contributors to our communities.”